Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols: Or, How to Philosophize with the Hammer (1889)
Edition used: Hackett, 1997.
In this lecture Christina Hendricks begins by talking about Nietzsche’s “Epigrams and Arrows,” then focuses on his arguments about “anti-natural morality” and how it can make us sick. She also discusses how we can reject life through positing a “real world” beyond the “apparent one,” according to Nietzsche, and connects this move to what Plato does in Republic. Though she didn’t get to this in the video recording, the slides go on to tell a story of how we might see Socrates as a kind of doctor for the sickness Nietzsche describes, and how we might possibly see Nietzsche as one too.
Click here for the link to the lecture on the UBC Media Site system.
- Compare Nietzsche’s treatment of the relationship between reality and the human senses to that of either Kierkegaard, Hobbes, or Plato. Suggest whose assessment of the relationship is most persuasive, and why.
- Explore the relationship between form and content in Twilight of the Idols. What, for example, does its forceful, satirical, and epigrammatic style reveal about Nietzsche’s attitude toward the meaning and practice of philosophy?
- Explore Nietzsche’s subtitle of the book: Or, How to Philosophize with the Hammer. How does this inform his overall argument and approach? Consider also discussing the main title Twilight of the Idols.
- Compare Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols. How does each philosopher examine existence, free will, or morality? Argue for why you may support one position or approach over another.
- Nietzsche’s philosophy ultimately supports the notion of complete freedom – from religion, society, and people (including the self). Explain how Twilight, and in particular Nietzsche’s willingness to embrace an impulse toward disorder, irrationality, and spontaneity (the Dionysian force), addresses his approach to freedom.
- Discuss Nietzsche’s use of medical and/ or therapeutic metaphors in Twilight of the Idols.
- Compare Nietzsche’s understanding of history in Twilight of the Idols with Trouillot’s or Rousseau’s. What can you conclude about the samenesses or differences?
- What role(s) does misogyny play in Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols?
- Take one or two of the aphorisms from “Epigrams and Arrows” and give it/them an interpretation based on what else Nietzsche says in Twilight of the Idols.
- “But Rousseau—what did he really want to go back to?” (Nietzsche 83). Nietzsche doesn’t clearly answer this question. Give an answer to this question based on your reading of Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, and compare to what Nietzsche might be said to want to go back to in his “return to nature” (Nietzsche 82).
- Nietzsche praises those who affirm life, who say “yes,” but he seems to do a great deal of saying “no” in this text. Does this mean he is something other than, as he claims, an immoralist who “do[es] not easily negate” (Nietzsche 29)?